• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1877.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

An Arms Race of Monetized Distraction

http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/500-iStock-525450811... 300w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />Image – iStockphoto: Celafon
Suiting Up for the Attention Economy
From time to time–many journalists know this moment—it feels as if several stories or trends you’ve been covering (or trying to dodge) start locking into place in some sort of shape or design or purpose. Call it “news relationship syndrome.”
This happened for me at the beginning of the month, and it brought together:

  • The annual Publishers Forum industry conference in Berlin: I was there this year to moderate a panel on international threats to copyright.
  • The annual Muse and the Marketplace Forum writers’ conference in Boston: I was there to lead a closing keynote panel on authors’ marketing strategies.
  • And our daily Trump l’oeil in which so much of the national news seems to revolve around the questions (a) “Wait, what just happened?” and (b) “Wait, is that really what it means or does it mean something else?” and “Wait, we don’t really understand this yet, do we?”

In Berlin, Michael Tamblyn of Kobo had introduced the idea of a “fifth wave” in book retail, and this is something that Jane Friedman and I wrote about in the May 3 edition of The Hot Sheet, our newsletter for authors. Tamblyn was concerned that industry players today might be breathing a sigh of relief and thinking that the digital scare has passed, that they can just “get back to publishing and making books without having to worry about the industry remaking itself.”
Tamblyn describe four historical “waves” of publishing retail:

  1. Independent bookstores;
  2. Chain bookstores;
  3. E-commerce (taking bookstores online); and
  4. Ebooks and audiobooks (taking content itself into the online ether).

And then he dropped his bombshell: “The fifth wave,” he said, “isn’t a format shift. And it isn’t a change in where books are sold or distributed. It isn’t subscription vs. single-title sale. It isn’t about how much a book gets sold for at all. Instead, it is the commodification and commercialization of attention.”
Welcome to the wars of attention.
And as we trundle out onto this unholy, unpresidented battlefield, I want you to think about this brilliant phrase that Tamblyn lobbed at us like a mic-drop: “It is an arms race of monetized attention.”
The mechanized (algorithmic) warfare around you is being waged by Netflix, Amazon Studios, HBO, Hulu, Showtime, everything on your Roku.  Have you heard any of your fellow author-soldiers talk of wanting to get into the miniseries content armies? I have: at London Book Fair, when I spoke on a panel in the Author HQ program in March, the writers in the audience wanted to know about Hollywood. And Hollywood is trying to capture your reader’s attention as a prisoner of war.
“It is about the fight for time,” Tamblyn said. And it’s too easy, he said, to shrug and say that books have always “jockeyed with TV and movies and magazines and newspapers for people’s time.
“Now we live in an attention economy,” he said, in which thousands of companies “have a very clear sense of what people’s time is worth.” In other words, what they can charge for your attention, “what they would like to do with it…and an incredible array of tools” to use in capturing it.” Your attention. Your reader’s attention.
My provocation for you today is a question about how clearly you know what you’re doing in trying to find and build a readership. Do you understand that you’re in a battle for people’s time and attention? How many hours do you want from someone to read your latest book? And what will get their attention so that they know it’s even there to read?

The Fifth Wave: The Fight for Time
http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Porter-Provocations-... 300w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Provocations graphic by Liam Walsh
At The Muse in the Marketplace, I’d laid out a few of these “fifth wave” concepts in which the new marketplace is a war for attention. The closing keynote in Boston is always packed with some 500 or so people listening to a panel’s responses to the marketing plans of three authors who have books publishing in the next year. My next plane would be leaving soon and I was grabbing my bags and there was a tap on my shoulder.
It was one of the three authors from last year’s Muse, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, who handed me her book, which has just been published by Macmillan’s Flatiron Books in the States this week: The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir. I’ve just spoken with her rights agent, who already is selling it into The Netherlands, the UK, Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, with other markets lining up. The book is unnervingly serious and goes far past true crime into the inexplicable nature of homicidal acts—and their nearness to all of us.
And in the odd linkage of that “news relationship syndrome,” I got all three messages, from Tamblyn, from Marzano-Lesnevich, and from those political headlines that keep changing, minute to minute with such nauseating, relentless demands on our attention.
http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/414HqQkNpTL-197x300.jpg 197w, http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/414HqQkNpTL-263x400.jpg 263w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />The war for attention is raging. Look away from the news for 10 minutes and a chunk of what makes this nation so singular in history may have broken right off as congressional leaders cower in corners of the Capitol. Even as journalism finds its feet again for the first time in so many years—our Fourth Estate is back just in time—the various media are in “an arms race of monetized distraction.” Each of their advertisers wants to distract you. And so do their networks’ producers: it’s all breaking, all the time.
And isn’t it phenomenal how much of your attention is going into simply trying to understand, follow, sort out the latest incremental update? The exhausting character of this news cycle will be recorded as an era of urgent confusion. So few moves make sense, so few are driven by plan or policy, so few can stand up through a single news conference without being turned on their heads.
I believe Tamblyn is right and I believe that his model for all this—the attention economy—is direly accurate. How is it that Marzano-Lesnevich can be capturing the attention of publishers on another continent with a tale of unexplained murder encountered in Louisiana? And how is it that you have to stop and wonder if you’ll have time to read that book, or any other, because you’ve got to read up at five different news sites to find out what everybody means by a deputy attorney general who blindsided his own boss, the attorney general, with a special “councel.”
“Wait, what just happened?”
How well are you faring in the attention economy? How well do you understand how your stories need to be armored for that “arms race of monetized distraction”? How much do you feel the pull of the battle for your own time? And tell me again, how many hours are you asking your reader to spend with your book…and you wanted that reader to pay you for that thing, too, right? 
Quick note: A bit of a complicated day here, so it will likely be into the weekend before I can respond to you in comments. Thanks!

Wish you could buy Porter a glass of Campari?

Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can!

About Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson)@Porter_Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, the international publishing industry magazine owned by German Book Office New York and affiliated with Frankfurt Book Fair. He and fellow Writer Unboxed contributor Jane Friedman produce @The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors. Anderson previously was The Bookseller's Associate Editor for The FutureBook in London. In that role, he programmed the inaugural Author Day issues-driven conference as part of FutureBook 2015 Week in London. He is also a featured writer with Thought Catalog in New York, doing the #MusicForWriters series, often in association with Q2 Music. More on his consultancy: PorterAndersonMedia.com | Google+Web | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google+ | More Posts

"There is no great writing, only great rewriting"
Justice Brandeis

Random picks

  • Sash windows, now considered to be a staple in the construction of many European and North American homes, first appeared during the seventeenth century during. Though they have evolved throughout the centuries, both the origin and the history of sash windows are significant to understanding their use today. A design strikingly similar to this innovative piece is mentioned in a 1519 literary work by W. Horman Valgaria. It is not believed that this was its start, however. Rather, its exact origins are not known. The fixture certainly began showing up in European estates in the 1670s, when it...
  • Ever wonder why some brands just sell more easily than others? Why some brands are just more memorable than others? Why we like some brands more than others?
  • In this ongoing series, Critical Mass asks critics to name five books that should be found in any reviewer's library. Herewith is Liesl Schillinger's response. Attention-seeking multitudes, rejecting the hierarchies and tastes of old-fashioned elites, have usurped the task of “the relatively refined creation of human culture, previously reserved to lesser groups,” and the “multitude has suddenly become visible, installing itself in the preferential positions in society.” That means that, “There are no longer protagonists; there is only the chorus....
  • "There are things you mustn't ask questions about. Some people get sad." The Belgian graphic novelist Jeroen Janssen first traveled to Rwanda in 1990. Both he and his then-wife taught at an art school in Nyundo for four years until they were forced to flee. In 2007 he returned and revisited the school and the surrounding area.
  • Distance, miles,  Songs of a Land that is not mine  Pain of exile.  Let me tell you who I am,  I am a child of exile.  I am the child of an encounter  Ivory Coast held me in its bosom  Rwanda, today, lets me tread on its soil.  Melting pot, meeting of cultures, are mine, Me!  I am diaspora!  Difference and Tolerance weave my life and blend in harmony.  Daughter of contrasts and colors  Of sadness and sweetness  Of odors and flavors …... Translated from French by Elizabeth Applegate

Recommended sites

Most recent titles

Fast fact about writing

Ancient writing (at first pictographic in nature) is best known from clay and stone inscriptions, but the use of perishable materials, mainly palm leaf, papyrus, and paper, began in ancient times.